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Illusion Of Gaia - Retroview

A Boy & His Dark Space

By: ASV


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 7
   Plot 6
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

5-20 hours

 
Overall
6
Criteria

Title Screen
 

   Enix... The unsung hero of the RPG world. Creator of such great games as Dragon Warrior III and Seventh Saga, they have gotten quite the bad rap in their recent absence from the business. Current failings aside, they produced some passable RPGs in the past. Illusion of Gaia is one of them.

   Much like Secret of Mana, IoG is designed around quick thinking and movement in battle. With the right set of moves, you can dash around, dodge the attacks of, and deal the death blow to almost any creature in the game. Important - as always - are the special items acquired throughout the game. The first time I played through it, I totally ignored them (except for the Healing Herbs) and was promptly and swiftly slaughtered by every boss I came across.

   Throughout the course of the game, the hero - Will - gains the power to morph into two extra bodies. Each has there own special purpose and can make the game a great deal easier to complete. This is especially true in battle. Freedan, the Dark Knight, and Shadow, the I'm-not-really-sure-what (^_^) are both a lot more powerful than the weakling boy you start the game as. Often times, you'll require their assistance if you want to locate the dungeon's final boss or even the sought after gems. Freedan - since you get him MUCH earlier on in the game - is decidedly the more useful of the two. He has chargable long range beam attacks (handy for taking out those pesky off-the-edge-of-the-screen enemies) and strong sword swipes in close combat. Each body has a different level of life - which is tallied in much the same manner as The Legend of Zelda. For this reason, battle is fairly quick and straight forward all around... Until the final stages of the game, at any rate; but I'll leave that to the FAQ writer.


Did He Say, "Gold"?  O_O
Did He Say, "Gold"?  O_O 

   Enix may have pulled off a nearly perfect translation here, folks... Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that the game has about as much text as the back of a dozen music CD covers. But, with the story so well told in spite of that, who's to complain?

   Finding the gems and playing through the sidequest are the only real reasons to replay IOG. Even when you do complete those two incredibly difficult tasks, your prize is... Well... Nothing. So... Replaying this game is a mixed hat; replay for perfection or don't because there's no substance to said perfection.

   Sound and music-wise, there's not a whole lot going on. The few tracks in the game are very well composed and the sound effects (all the two of them that there are) aren't that badly placed. The music itself plays a small - if vital - role in the way that the game is won. By playing Melodies that you collect on your trip around the world, you can have certain effects on the story. As a matter of fact, a few of the quests you embark on are for the sole purpose of finding these songs. Although it's not taken to nearly the extreme that Ocarina of Time is, the music can still be a useful tool almost until the games' end. Happy fluting!

   While originality isn't really IOG's strong suit, it is creative enough that you won't become bored too easily. A good amount of the monsters you fight have sneaky patterns to discern as do the boss creatures. However, on the grander scale of things, the games' most ingenious addition to its' gameplay comes from the plot line. A good deal of twists await you on your journey to the Tower of Babel; think you can make it?


Look Out! Swordsman Coming Through!
Look Out! Swordsman Coming Through! 

   The games' one SERIOUS flaw comes from its' difficulty. Not only is it pretty much impossible to die, but you start again with half your life meter full, mere steps from where you last were, IF you manage to perish. This is the ideal time to use the sparse healing items in the game to get their most powerful effect. Even the final boss can't stand up to THAT kind of beating...

   The story is pretty powerful actually. It goes a long way from its' meager beginnings (A boy on a quest to find his lost father) to its' Chrono Cross-esque ending.

   Some of the animated water effects as well as the stray beams of light, really add the graphical touch to this action RPG. From the first caverns of the Angel Village to the glowing interior of Angkor Wat, you'll never have sore eyes; unless you've been playing for more than a straight day. But, that's another story entirely.

   If you hate linearity in a game, then by-all-means put down that IOG cart! It is the very definition of linear. One event leads directly to the next, leads directly to the next, and so on. This is only deviated from a single time in the game; hence the single sidequest.

   Enix has made a few mistakes in the past, and present, and will undoubtedly make more in the future. Illusion of Gaia is one of the things that they did to the best of their ability. And, although it isn't the top notch game that we RPG fans may have come to expect for our consoles, it is extremely fun to play and see in person. So, if you don't mind playing a relatively short, relatively easy, relatively spoozy RPG, then have at this one..! Hey! Don't kill the messenger!





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